This is an opinion piece by Ray Youssef, CEO of Paxful and co-founder of the Built With Bitcoin Foundation.
As Bitcoin adoption continues to grow around the world, education remains one of our biggest challenges. Financial literacy should be a right, but in many places around the world people deny it or, worse still, are misinformed. But how do you deal with a topic like Bitcoin? In my experience, it’s the one-on-one connections that have had the strongest impact.
Start with confidence
The foundation of any good relationship starts with trust. I learned this at an early age. When I was a kid, working at my parents’ newsstand in New York City, I often met clients from all walks of life and had to orient myself on how I dealt with each situation. To give customers what they needed, I realized that I could only do it by listening to them. This work has taught me patience and empathy, allowing me to understand customer problems in advance and find solutions to help them.
When I started Paxful in 2015, I answered most of the customer service calls. I will never forget the first call I got from a busy customer who found my mobile number on our website. She was from Louisiana and she told me she was going to be evicted from her apartment because she was overdue with her rent. She this was a bankless American woman who never had a bank account and she never wanted one, but she needed to buy an ad with Bitcoin to sell some stuff to make ends meet. She taught her that if she could buy a gift card for a small amount, she could convert it to Bitcoin. Twenty minutes later she called back, gift card in hand, and I guided her through the process. Our conversation lasted about two hours, but he was eventually making his first transaction.
A few days later, we started having hundreds of incoming calls. We ended up driving nearly a thousand people through our site and our traders were rushing to fill orders around the world. While Bitcoin’s global adoption begins and ends with education, education is nothing without patience, trust, and good customer service.
Bank on our community
During my Bitcoin journey, I came across some amazing people who are working to increase education and make a difference around the world. People like the activist Farida Nabourema, who is fighting for democracy in the country of Togo, the Sulaiman brothers who are strengthening their community in Nigeria with Bitcoin and Kal Kassa spreading the knowledge of Bitcoin in secluded regions like Ethiopia. An interesting story comes from Paco of India – a man who made it his mission to visit 40 countries in 400 days, living mainly on bitcoin. During his journey, he is spreading the mass awareness of Bitcoin. He educates strangers on the street and hosts community events, encouraging people to use Bitcoin to access financial freedom. They are stories like that of de la India that remind us how small actions can bring about big changes.
The key to Bitcoin’s global adoption comes from a bottom-up approach. That is why at Paxful we have invested so much of our time in the field, meeting users, hosting workshops and organizing campus tours. My experience has taught me that you should never underestimate the power of human connection. It is only with education, patience and understanding that we can achieve mass adoption and provide equal access to finance for anyone, anywhere.
This is a guest post by Ray Youssef. The views expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc. or Bitcoin Magazine.